The trumpet is one of the loudest wind instruments.
Luckily, tools like mutes or a Yamaha Silent Brass system can allow users to practice without producing much sound.
You can also practice fundamentals without ever picking up your trumpet. Buzzing or using a Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser can keep your lip muscles strong when you can’t play any notes.
When all else fails, practice playing pianissimo or resort to soundproofing your apartment. At some point, you’ll need to practice at full volume, but there are some alternative ways to practice without disturbing your neighbors.
How To Play Trumpet Quietly:
There are many ways to practice the trumpet at home without creating loud volume. You can dampen sound with mutes or soundproofed walls. Otherwise, practice quieter techniques with buzzing, embouchure tools, or pianissimo exercises.
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Here are six ways to play the trumpet more quietly:
1. Use a Mute
Mutes are specially made to dampen the sound of your trumpet.
When you place them inside your bell, you’ll notice that your tone sounds muffled.
No matter which mute you choose, it will quiet your playing. However, some mutes need some extra pressure to play. This might affect your technique after you remove the mute.
We’d recommend using the ZJTL sshhmute. You can find this on Amazon for less than $50, so it won’t break the bank.
It also does a great job of muffling your sound without needing extra pressure to play.
2. Practice on Your Mouthpiece
Sometimes playing trumpet is just too loud.
Your neighbors might complain no matter how softly you can play. When this happens, you can practice with just your mouthpiece.
There are plenty of buzzing exercises that you can do to strengthen your embouchure. When you can’t play on your full trumpet, use your mouthpiece instead.
Anything you can play on your trumpet, you can play on just the mouthpiece. It just takes a bit of practice.
When you buzz, you will hear the notes you’re making. You can go through simple long tones exercises for some fundamental practicing, but you can also practice buzzing more complicated solos.
Although it won’t be the same as the real thing, buzzing can highly benefit your playing. This can help your breathing, articulation, and embouchure. Plus, it sounds much quieter than playing on your instrument.
Here are some exercises to practice buzzing:
Steady Note Buzz:
Hold your mouthpiece with your thumb and two fingers.
Be sure to make your proper embouchure while keeping your airstream strong and fast.
Make the note as steady as possible.
Practice making a note that goes up and down in pitch. Increase your airspeed and keep more tension in the sides of your embouchure.
For an in-depth look at these exercises, watch this great video:
3. Practice Your Embouchure
You can improve your trumpet playing without ever picking up your instrument.
This is made possible with a simple tool called P.E.T.E.
The Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser does a great job in helping you practice your embouchure without making any sound.
This device is a metal tube with a circular piece at the end. You place the circular piece behind your lips, which makes you form your trumpet embouchure around the tube.
With this tool, you can feel your embouchure muscles engage. You can practice different exercises to strengthen these muscles, which will help improve your trumpet playing.
Even when you can’t pick up your horn, you can still practice your embouchure. For under $100, your embouchure can improve every day.
4. Practice Playing Pianissimo
To practice a pianissimo sound, you can try a soft breath attack.
Don’t use any articulation to make a sound. Start with a soft, concentrated airstream until the note starts to form.
After this, you can practice moving from a mezzo-piano dynamic down to pianissimo until you no longer hear the note. Practice keeping control of the note the entire time, as pitch often becomes flat in a soft volume.
If you can’t make much sound in your apartment, try some whisper tones.
Whisper tones are the sound made just before your lips begin to vibrate. You can practice making these notes without making loud sounds.
Pop tones are similar, but you articulate every whisper tone. Practicing both of these techniques will exercise your embouchure because it takes a lot of motor control.
This video does a great job of showing you exactly how whisper tones and pop tones should sound.
5. Use Yamaha Silent Brass
The Yamaha Silent Brass system works similarly to a mute because it dampens your playing sound much more efficiently.
This system is a great piece of technology that reduces your trumpet’s volume, but you can still hear your normal tone.
You can practice anywhere, at any time with the Yamaha Silent Brass system.
It comes with a mute that looks similar to other mutes, except it has an internal microphone. While your sound is dampened around you, this technology recreates your sound digitally in headphones.
Although it is expensive, this tool can highly benefit your at-home practice. You won’t have to worry about loud sounds bothering your neighbors, which allows you to practice normally.
For less than $200 on Amazon, this technology is a good investment. 83% of its reviewers left five stars, stating that it is worth the price.
6. Soundproof Your Apartment
There’s only so much you can do to quiet a trumpet.
Even though using mutes and playing softly can work, it may harm your development as an instrumentalist. Sometimes you have to practice at full volume.
When you’d like to practice normally, but don’t want to bother your neighbors, consider soundproofing some areas of your home.
This is not the cheapest option, but it will make your neighbors much happier. You will also be able to practice at a normal volume.
Here are some steps you can take to minimize sound leaking from your home:
Seal off Air Leaks
The biggest area for air leaks is your front door.
Installing a door draft stopper can work wonders in decreasing the amount of sound that escapes.
Of course, you can’t just do this step alone. It may decrease sound but won’t fully soundproof the apartment.
Sound also escapes through windows. You can install noise-reducing blackout drapes to combat this problem. They do a great job in blocking noise and light.
Add Foam Panels to the Walls
If you’ve sealed off air leaks and still receive noise complaints, you might have to soundproof your walls.
Choose one room in your house as the designated practice room. Then buy noise-reducing foam panels and place them on the walls.
You don’t have to cover every inch of space on the walls fully. Even covering 30%-40% will significantly reduce sound output.
Many instrumentalists receive noise complaints because of loud trumpet playing.
There are many ways to avoid this, from dampening sound to finding alternative ways to strengthen your embouchure.
Using mutes or more advanced sound dampeners can be extremely effective. Consider investing in one of these tools so that you never have to worry about noise complaints again.
If dampening your sound doesn’t fix the problem, you can still improve your playing. Try buzzing exercises or use an embouchure exerciser.
You don’t have to make a sound to advance your progress.
This can be a great time to practice playing softly. Many trumpet players forget to incorporate this into their practice time, so use this to your advantage.